We’ve been inspired by Richard Heinberg to move our family away from the big city and into a sustainable community that can adjust to the petroleum shortage through strategies such as growing our own food, establishing money-free trade, supporting others through skills-building and banding together with like-minded individuals. Our main criteria for our ideal block of land included being in a high-rainfall area and within an established community that could weather the future storms of global financial meltdown (oops, that’s already happening!).

With all this in mind, almost a year ago, David and I were looking at real estate prices in New Zealand. Beautiful properties were pretty cheap, and we were looking for an alternative to the highly-priced acreage blocks here in Australia. New Zealand was also more attractive to us because of its politically neutral status and more conservative society (not to be confused with its more liberal politics).

“Eek!” we thought. “New Zealand is so cheap, we’d better snap up something right away!” So David flew over for two weeks in May 2008 with a number of properties to examine. We had already decided on a general area (Northland) and simply had to find the right place.

Very quickly, David realised that there were many more properties available for sale than were listed online, and most lots were considered over-priced, although they did seem cheap to us. Furthermore, locals believed that the prices would come down (yay, they have!) and so there was no rush to buy.

After one week, David was pretty discouraged. What was he doing in New Zealand? He was alone, feeling lonely and without a real purpose for being there because we decided to wait in buying land. We had been praying about this a lot, and so we knew that God had something in mind, but it felt like a dead end. So David went to church, just a random church that he happened to drive by at the right time on Sunday morning.

At Totara North Bible Chapel, David was embraced by the local Whangaroa Harbour community. He was invited back to someone’s house to stay, asked over for meals, participated in the local outreach events and was impressed by the Christian servitude shown within the community, especially by one couple: Mike and Janet.

“This is it!” David said. “We’ll make our home here and contribute in a meaningful way to the community.” The rural lifestyle and community is particularly attractive as in our current suburban setting we feel removed from others’ lives, even those within our church. Everyone is so busy that people don’t have time to invest in each other.

In this visit, I’ll finally have the chance to meet the community David is taking us to. I feel like I’m part of an arranged marriage — something out of my control is taking place — but I trust that it’s the right move.

We’re taking Aisha along for the ride. We’ve been talking about moving to New Zealand for a long time, and she has started talking about it herself. At four years old, hopefully she’s old enough to remember the visit and will enhance our enjoyment with her own excitement.

As for the others that are left behind, I’ve wrapped a string of little presents for Brioni so she’ll get one each day. (My strategy of giving gifts says more about me than about what Brioni needs or wants.) Manou will be here to care for Brioni and Calista properly, and we have every confidence that she can handle whatever happens.

We’ll be gone for 12 days, back on Wednesday 29th. We’ll be staying with Mike and Janet and will just do the things the locals do. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to update the blog from NZ, but I’ll definitely fill you in when we get back.